Tag Archives: Poverty

Pope Francis Calls Unfettered Capitalism ‘Tyranny’

by Joshua Holland

Earlier this month, Laurie Goodstein reported for The New York Times that Pope Francis’ softer rhetoric on hot-button social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage were causing conservative Catholics no small amount of chagrin.

It looks like they can expect more cognitive dissonance, according to this report in The Guardian

Pope Francis has attacked unfettered capitalism as “a new tyranny”, urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff.

The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy, building on views he has aired in sermons and remarks since he became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years in March.

In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the “idolatry of money” and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens “dignified work, education and healthcare”.

He also called on rich people to share their wealth. “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills,” Francis wrote in the document issued on Tuesday.

“How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”

In a sense, the new pope is just grappling with the reality he faces. Polls show that American Catholics, at least, agree with the pontiff’s position that the church focuses too much on social issues. And Francis recently commissioned a survey of Catholics around the world to see where they fall on these questions.

Meanwhile, Dominic Barton, the Managing Director of McKinsey & Co., writes in today’s Wall Street Journal: ”In 2012, the top 1% of earners in the US collected 19.3% of the country’s total household income–an all-time high… The disparity is growing rapidly as well. Incomes of the top 1% grew by 31.4% from 2009 to 2012, compared to just 0.4% for the remaining 99%.

Continue reading Pope Francis Calls Unfettered Capitalism ‘Tyranny’

Billion Dollar Pay Check? 10 CEOs in America Break All Records for Executive Pay

“I have never seen anything like that,” says the author of the report on CEO pay.

For the first time ever, the 10 highest-paid chief executives in the US all received more than $100m in compensation and two took home billion-dollar paychecks, according to a leading annual survey of executive pay.

Read more » AlterNet
http://www.alternet.org/billion-dollar-pay-check-10-ceos-america-break-all-records-executive-pay

Israel poverty figures up, 40% of children at risk

Nearly twice as many youngsters facing financial difficulties compared to average for European countries

By Stuart Winer

he number of Israelis at risk of poverty has gone up in the last decade and is nearly twice the average in the European Union, figures released Wednesday show. Details from the “Society in Israel Report No. 6,” published by the National Central Bureau of Statistics, showed that an increasing number of Israelis are failing to make ends meet.According to the report, 31 percent of the population in 2011 was in danger of poverty, compared to 17% in the European Union. For the purposes of the report, risk of poverty was defined as when each member of a household is supported on less than 60% of the average financial resources available to the rest of the population. Among Israeli single-parent households with dependent children, 44% were facing poverty compared to 41% in 2001. In Europe, the numbers stood at 35% in 2011 and 32% in 2001. Luxembourg was found to be worst of all with 46%. The number of children at risk of poverty in Israel was twice that in Europe in 2011

Read more » Times of Israel
http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-poverty-figures-up-40-of-children-at-risk/

Britain 2013: children of poor families are still left behind

By and Taytula Burke

Special report: More than four decades ago a groundbreaking report, Born to Fail?, highlighted the extent of child poverty in Britain. Since then, despite the pledges of successive governments, things have only got worse. Where now for the next generation?

Read more » The Guardian
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/aug/24/child-poverty-britain-40-years-failure

Alternatives to Capitalism

There Are Good Alternatives to US Capitalism, But No Way to Get There

Jerry Mander’s new book explores the fatal flaws of the “obsolete” capitalist system and strategies for change.

By Jerry Mander

The following is an excerpt from Jerry Mander’s new book The Capitalism Papers: Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System (Counterpoint, 2013):

Which Way Out?

Let’s start with some good news. There is no shortage of good alternative ideas, plans, and strategies being put forth by activist groups and “new economy” thinkers in the United States and all countries of the world. Some seek to radically reshape the current capitalist system. Others advocate abandoning it for something new (or old). There is also a third option, a merger of the best points of other existing or proposed options, toward a “hybrid” economic model that can cope with modern realities.

Continue reading Alternatives to Capitalism

80 Percent Of U.S. Adults Face Near-Poverty, Unemployment: Survey

By HOPE YEN

WASHINGTON — Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.

Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.

Read more » Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/28/poverty-unemployment-rates_n_3666594.html

Deadly debt trap

The only way to come out of prevalent economic mess is to accelerate growth and enhance tax revenues

By Huzaima Bukhari & Dr. Ikramul Haq

Pakistan trapped in deadly ‘debt prison’ needs concentrated short and long term efforts to come out of it. Unfortunately, till today no workable plan and viable strategy is devised by the government or any political party in opposition to tackle the issue. The debt burden — Rs14.5 billion internal and $60 billion external — is becoming unmanageable as major resources are consumed by debt servicing. The budget allocation of Rs1.52 trillion for retiring public debt and payment of interest during fiscal year 2013-14 would prove short as there was surge of Rs180 billion in external debts alone during July 2013.

On July 29, 2013, the rupee recorded its lowest value against the dollar: Rs102.4 in the interbank market, Rs104.7 in open market, but actual rate was Rs105.5. Continuous slide of the rupee is not merely due to widening demand-supply gap or maneuverings by unscrupulous elements. Other factors are external debt repayments of around $1billion and speculations about official devaluation in the wake of IMF bailout.

Devaluation will have devastating effects e.g. tremendous surge in public debt (one rupee loss in the exchange rate adds Rs60 billion to public debt), enhancement in debt servicing, further widening of fiscal deficit and more expensive imports, especially of crude oil raising cost of all goods and services.

Already huge debt servicing is taking a heavy toll on economy — fiscal deficit for financial year 2012-13 jumped to 8.8 per cent of GDP as shortfall on the part of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) alone was Rs442 billion. The fast depletion of foreign exchange reserves — from $14.776 billion in July 2011 to $5.153 billion by July 2013 — aggravated the situation. Heavy repayments to the IMF and others plus financing of current account deficit amounting to $2.3 billion in 2012-13 forced the new government to approach the IMF for a bailout package.

The situation on internal debt is equally disturbing. The government, for the first time in the history, borrowed from local banks Rs one trillion during the fiscal year 2012-13. The net government borrowing from domestic banks increased to Rs1.012 trillion between July 1, 2012 and June 28, 2013 against Rs629.9 billion over the same period last fiscal year. The federal government borrowed Rs1.005 trillion for budgetary support as compared to Rs696.5 billion during the corresponding period fiscal year.

The reckless and unabated borrowing from commercial banks is not only retarding growth but also depriving private sector of the much-needed funds for investments. It is but also forcing State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to inject heavy amounts of liquidity in the banking system through frequent open market operations as high borrowings wipe out liquidity from the money market.

The only way to come out of prevalent mess is to accelerate growth, generate employment, enhance tax revenues, and stop financing luxuries of elites and losses of public sector enterprises (PSEs). But the present government, like the PPP-coalition government, is not serious about it. During its election campaign, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) made tall claims that on assuming power it will get rid of the “cancer of external debts”.

Continue reading Deadly debt trap

UK most unequal country in the West

Huge gap between rich and poor in Britain is the same as Nigeria and worse than Ethiopia, UN report reveals

By Geoffrey Lean and Graham Ball

Britain is now the most unequal country in the Western world, an authoritative new United Nations report reveals. The gap between rich and poor is as great as in Nigeria.

Detailed statistics in the Human Development Report published last week also demonstrate that inequality has grown sharply during Conservative rule and that the poor in Britain now have to live on much the same incomes as their equivalents in Hungary and Korea.

Read more > The Independent.co.uk
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk-most-unequal-country-in-the-west-1329614.html

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Via Facebook

UK – Homeless: More Young People Sleeping Rough

Statistics show more young people are being forced onto the streets as a new theatre play shines the spotlight on the crisis.

As statistics show more young people are becoming homeless in the UK, a new play questions why more is not being done to help those forced onto the streets.

Government figures show the number of people sleeping rough in England has increased by a third since 2010.

In London alone, 6,437 people slept rough during 2012-13, a 62% rise in two years.

Campaigners say there is a risk this trend could continue, given youth unemployment, the economic downturn and the pressures on low income families, combined with changes within welfare reform, reduction of public services and the general squeezing of housing supply and affordability of accommodation.

The official figures do not account for the hidden homeless.

Three months after his 18th birthday, Leo was forced to sofa surf for nine months until he received help from Centre Point.

He told Sky News: “I feel lonely and like I don’t really have a voice. I’m not really accountable for anything despite going to college. I don’t feel like a real person.”

Read more » Sky News
http://news.sky.com/story/1124291/homeless-more-young-people-sleeping-rough

71pc households in Sindh food insecure: report

BY HASAN MANSOOR

KARACHI: Despite having 14 million acres under crop cultivation in Sindh, over 71 per cent households in the province are food insecure — the highest level of food insecurity among the provinces and region, it emerged on Sunday.

Of these food insecure households, 34pc are food insecure with moderate hunger and 17pc are food insecure with severe hunger, according to a report drafted by the provincial planning and development department.

The department prepared the draft in January ‘for discussion’ by its own research assisted with several reports of the World Bank, London School of Economics, World Health Organization, Unicef, Lancet, Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement, Save the Children, SDPI, SDC, World Food Programme and several independent researchers.

Between 2003-04 and 2008-09, the number of surplus food producing districts decreased from 11 to six while the number of food deficit districts increased, the report said.

Eight of Sindh’s 23 districts, most of them in the southern part of the province and in its coastal belt were identified as having ‘extremely poor’ conditions for access to food.

Continue reading 71pc households in Sindh food insecure: report

The Real Numbers: Half of America in Poverty — and It’s Creeping toward 75%

The Census Bureau has reported that one out of six Americans lives in poverty. A shocking figure. But it’s actually much, much worse.

The Census Bureau has reported that one out of six Americans lives in poverty. A shocking figure. But it’s actually much worse. Inequality is spreading like a shadowy disease through our country, infecting more and more households, and leaving a shrinking number of financially secure families to maintain the charade of prosperity.

1. Almost half of Americans had NO assets in 2009

Analysis of  Economic Policy Institute data shows that Mitt Romney’s famous  47 percent, the alleged ‘takers,’ have taken nothing. Their debt exceeded their assets in 2009.

Continue reading The Real Numbers: Half of America in Poverty — and It’s Creeping toward 75%

British people are committing suicide to escape poverty. Is this what the State wants?

By Sonia Poulton

In the last few months of his life, Craig Monk attempted several overdoses and was described as ‘vulnerable’ by his family.

An accident a few years before had resulted in the partial amputation of his leg and he had suffered unnecessary, and anxiety-inducing, obstructions in receiving state assistance – even though his disability was clear for all see. Over time he slipped further into poverty, the ends could no longer meet.

Finally, the fear of there not being a light at the end of his personal tunnel overwhelmed him and Mr. Monk, a 43-year-old from Burnley, was found hanging in his home in October last year.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2117718/British-people-committing-suicide-escape-poverty-Is-State-wants.html#ixzz2UOxRN5Yg 

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Canadians trimming food budgets in face of higher prices, RBC says

Bank report suggests as much as 91 per cent of Canadians plan to cut back food spending.

By Allison Brogan, CBC News

Canadian families are planning to cut back on the amount they spend at the grocery store in the face of rising food prices, a new report from one of Canada’s largest banks said Thursday.

The RBC Canadian Consumer Outlook Index showed Canadians’ are displeased with rising food prices at the grocery store.

As much as 91 per cent of respondents to the survey said they have taken notice of rising food prices and are being more budget oriented as a result.

Read more » CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/05/16/business-rbc-food.html

Marx’s Revenge: How Class Struggle Is Shaping the World

Even business journals are recognizing it. Since this piece originates with a business publication, you will obviously find some things that may startle you. If so, disregard..or better, explore and see what the other side thinks. —Eds.

By , Business Time

Or so we thought. With the global economy in a protracted crisis, and workers around the world burdened by joblessness, debt and stagnant incomes, Marx’s biting critique of capitalism — that the system is inherently unjust and self-destructive — cannot be so easily dismissed. Marx theorized that the capitalist system would inevitably impoverish the masses as the world’s wealth became concentrated in the hands of a greedy few, causing economic crises and heightened conflict between the rich and working classes. “Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole,” Marx wrote.

A growing dossier of evidence suggests that he may have been right. It is sadly all too easy to find statistics that show the rich are getting richer while the middle class and poor are not. A September study from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington noted that the median annual earnings of a full-time, male worker in the U.S. in 2011, at $48,202, were smaller than in 1973. Between 1983 and 2010, 74% of the gains in wealth in the U.S. went to the richest 5%, while the bottom 60% suffered a decline, the EPI calculated. No wonder some have given the 19th century German philosopher a second look. In China, the Marxist country that turned its back on Marx, Yu Rongjun was inspired by world events to pen a musical based on Marx’s classic Das Kapital. “You can find reality matches what is described in the book,” says the playwright.

Continue reading Marx’s Revenge: How Class Struggle Is Shaping the World

Canada drops out of top 10 most developed countries list

The United Nations human development index now ranks Canada as 11th

By the Canadian Press

Canada has slipped out of the top 10 countries listed in the annual United Nation’s human development index — a far cry from the 1990s when it held the first place for most of the decade.

The 2013 report, which reviews a country’s performance in health, education and income, places Canada in 11th place versus 10th last year.

Continue reading Canada drops out of top 10 most developed countries list

Sindh after the SPLGA

By Naseer Memon

Impregnated with ethnic strife, the Sindh Peoples Local Government Act (SPLGA) created an unprecedented anti-PPP sentiment in its stronghold, Sindh. Proceedings of the Supreme Court, hearing a petition seeking annulment of the law, were indicative of an inclement outcome for the government. The recent experience of by-elections also sent waves of consternation in the ruling camp as its candidates faced pillories from opponents and disgruntled masses on the same law. All these factors constrained the PPP to cajole its ally to rescind the politically incendiary law. The belated adieu by the MQM to the government is viewed as an overtly cosmetic move under a premeditated script. On the day that acting governor of Sindh, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, signed to repeal the SPLGA, the Karachi Stock Exchange recorded bonanza business — unimaginable if it was not a mock war between the two parties. Nevertheless, the interment of a divisive law averted a lurking ethnic frenzy in the province, already mired with unremitting violence, especially in Karachi.

In the presence of this law, the next general elections could have been a nightmare for the PPP in Sindh. Although the opposition has been disarmed of its would-be most popular slogan of divisive law, the lacklustre performance of the PPP during the past five years has sufficiently exasperated its voters. Rampant corruption, brazen violation of merit in postings and transfers, displacement of several million flood affectees, substandard quality of social sector services, ubiquitous lawlessness, shabby infrastructure and scruffy towns can provide ample ammunition for the election campaign of opposition parties. For the PPP, the past platitude of victimisation and martyrdom of the Bhuttos has lost its lustre to fascinate the masses this time. Portending this ominous fact, the party has embarked upon a medley of actions, including cajoling feudal lords in Sindh.

Continue reading Sindh after the SPLGA

Capitalism Becomes Questionable – by Richard D. Wolff

The depth and length of the global crisis are now clear to millions. In the sixth year since it started in late 2007, no end is in sight. Unemployment rates are now less than halfway back from their recession peak to where they were in 2007. Over 20 million are without work, millions more limited to part-time work, millions have been foreclosed out of their homes. Those who retain jobs suffer declining real wages, fewer benefits, reduced job security, and more work. This year of “austerity” began with an increase in the payroll tax rate for over 150 million wage-and-salary earners from 4.2 to 6.2 per cent (a 48% increase from 2012) — a far more significant tax event than the trivial — but wildly hyped — increase of taxes on those earning over $450,000 annually from 35 to 39.6 per cent (a 13% increase from 2012). Austerity deepens as Republicans and Democrats negotiate merely details of their agreements to cut government spending on social programs helping working people.

Between the crisis and today’s austerity policies lie the bailouts — a bought government’s program to aid mega-finance and other large corporations with unlimited funds unmatched by anything comparable for the mass of working people and smaller businesses. The bailouts worked for them, for the large corporations who secured them for themselves. For that reason, “recovery” blessed them while it bypassed everyone else. Now austerity policies shift onto the general population major portions of the costs of the crisis and the bailouts. The situation is so bad and US government complicity with capitalists at the people’s expense so exposed that the capitalist system is becoming questionable. Criticism challenges the last half-century’s treatment of capitalism as the absolutely best possible economic system, beyond any need for discussion or debate, justifiably implanted around the world by military force, etc.

First of all, this deep and long crisis undermines decades of confident assurances and predictions that another deep capitalist depression was no longer likely or even possible. Capitalism’s inherent instability overwhelmed and thus proved the futility of efforts to prevent its crises. Moreover, both conventional and extraordinary monetary and fiscal policies failed repeatedly to bring Europe, Japan, and the US out of the crisis. Central banks, international agencies, and national executives charged with economic responsibilities have, since 2007, spoken with assurance and met often, posed for media photos, puffed and threatened, made a few last-minute, stop-gap agreements, resolved to meet again and do more at the next meeting. However, the crisis continued for most people. In many places it has gotten much worse. All this challenges glib notions that capitalism’s highest authorities have the system “under control.”

Implicitly, at first, millions of people began to question whether capitalism does still “deliver the goods” as its defenders so long insisted. In the US, declining economic conditions for parents coupled with rising school debts and declining job prospects for their children suggest rather that capitalism “delivers the bads.” The widening inequalities of wealth and income that contributed to the crisis have in turn been further aggravated by it.

Continue reading Capitalism Becomes Questionable – by Richard D. Wolff

Canada is not doing better

Ed Broadbent: Inequality’s a problem for Canada, too

By: ED BROADBENT, The Globe and Mail

I don’t know whether it’s smugness or indifference, but we Canadians can be a self-deluding lot. Growing inequality, portrayed recently in The Economist as a global scourge, when viewed from Canada, seems to be a problem only for others.

After all, it was other countries’ banks that crashed in 2008. It’s in southern Europe that tens of thousands are taking to the streets. And it was in France and the United States that recent elections were fought over the fact that those who created the mess, the top 1 per cent, are still getting big bonuses and low tax rates.

Well, guess what? Canada is not doing better. From 1982 until 2004, almost all growth in family income went to the top 20 per cent, with much of that going to the top 1 per cent, while the bottom 60 per cent saw no growth at all. The increase in inequality in Canada since the mid-1990s has been the fourth highest in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

But does this matter? Yes, the evidence is in, and the conclusion is clear: Inequality does matter. In terms of social outcomes, more equal societies do better for everyone, not just for the poor, in almost every respect: health outcomes, life expectancy, level of trust in society, equality of opportunity and upward social mobility. A recent study showed that if Americans want to experience the American Dream of upward mobility, they should pack up and move to Sweden. They would have to leave the most unequal democracy and move to the most equal.

Continue reading Canada is not doing better

Miss a Traffic Ticket, Go to Jail? The Return of Debtor Prison (Hard Times, USA)

Thought debtor prison ended in the 18th century? Think again.

Editor’s note: America has a long history of treating the poor like criminals, from legislation banning the transportation of poor people across state lines to anti-vagrancy laws that could land you in jail if you didn’t have a job or a home. We’ve come to rely on the criminal justice system to deal with the poor, even as more and more Americans fall into poverty. The following is part of a series that looks at the diverse ways poverty is criminalized in America, such as laws targeting the homeless, the surveillance of welfare recipients, the re-emergence of debtor’s prisons, and extreme policing tactics like stop-and-frisk.

Kawana Young, a single mother of two kids, was arrested in Michigan after failing to pay money she owed as a result of minor traffic offenses. She was recently laid off from her job, and could not pay the fees she owed because she couldn’t find another source of employment. So a judge sentenced her to three days in jail. In addition, Young was charged additional fees for being booked and for room and board for a place she did not want to be. In total, she has been jailed five times for being unable to pay her debts.

“It doesn’t make sense to jail people when they can’t pay because they definitely can’t pay while they’re in jail,” said Young.

Continue reading Miss a Traffic Ticket, Go to Jail? The Return of Debtor Prison (Hard Times, USA)

Canada falling behind on poverty, inequality, says report

Conference Board report card gives Canada a B, ranked 7th out of 17 developed countries

Canada isn’t living up to its potential or its reputation when it comes to societal issues like poverty, government and inequality, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

The group gave Canada a ‘B’, good for a 7th place ranking out of 17 developed countries, but it said the “middle-of-the-pack” ranking leaves room for improvement.

Getting an ‘A’ at the top of the rankings were the Scandinavian nations (Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland) as well as the Netherlands and Austria. …

Read more » CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/02/01/business-canada-society-report-card.html

Noam Chomsky- Is America Over?

Noam Chomsky: The Paranoia of the Superrich and Superpowerful

“Is America over?” It’s a standard complaint of those who believe they should have everything.

By Noam Chomsky

[This piece is adapted from “Uprisings,” a chapter in Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire, Noam Chomsky’s new interview book with David Barsamian (with thanks to the publisher, Metropolitan Books).  The questions are Barsamian’s, the answers Chomsky’s.]

Does the United States still have the same level of control over the energy resources of the Middle East as it once had?

The major energy-producing countries are still firmly under the control of the Western-backed dictatorships. So, actually, the progress made by the Arab Spring is limited, but it’s not insignificant. The Western-controlled dictatorial system is eroding. In fact, it’s been eroding for some time. So, for example, if you go back 50 years, the energy resources — the main concern of U.S. planners — have been mostly nationalized. There are constantly attempts to reverse that, but they have not succeeded.

Take the U.S. invasion of Iraq, for example. To everyone except a dedicated ideologue, it was pretty obvious that we invaded Iraq not because of our love of democracy but because it’s maybe the second- or third-largest source of oil in the world, and is right in the middle of the major energy-producing region. You’re not supposed to say this. It’s considered a conspiracy theory.

The United States was seriously defeated in Iraq by Iraqi nationalism — mostly by nonviolent resistance. The United States could kill the insurgents, but they couldn’t deal with half a million people demonstrating in the streets. Step by step, Iraq was able to dismantle the controls put in place by the occupying forces. By November 2007, it was becoming pretty clear that it was going to be very hard to reach U.S. goals. And at that point, interestingly, those goals were explicitly stated. So in November 2007 the Bush II administration came out with an official declaration about what any future arrangement with Iraq would have to be. It had two major requirements: one, that the United States must be free to carry out combat operations from its military bases, which it will retain; and two, “encouraging the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments.” In January 2008, Bush made this clear in one of his signing statements. A couple of months later, in the face of Iraqi resistance, the United States had to give that up. Control of Iraq is now disappearing before their eyes.

Iraq was an attempt to reinstitute by force something like the old system of control, but it was beaten back. In general, I think, U.S. policies remain constant, going back to the Second World War. But the capacity to implement them is declining.

Declining because of economic weakness?

Continue reading Noam Chomsky- Is America Over?

The Plight of Sindh and Sindhis in Pakistan – the Facts and Figures

By: Ayaz Latif Palijo

Sindh has 6th largest Coal reserves in the world. Sindh contributes 71.6% of total Gas reserves of Pakistan. Sindh contributes 58.5% of total Petrol reserves of Pakistan. Sindh contributes 71% of total revenue of Pakistan. Sindh has 2 international standard ports of Pakistan.

YET

55% of population in Sindh lives below the poverty line. Sindh gets just 24.55% from the divisible pool. More than 30% people of Rural Sindh are unemployed. More than 68% of the girls in Sindh can not join schools. Sindh has worst roads, hospitals & schools in the entire South Asia.

WHY???

Via – Facebook

How Arabs buy ‘wives’ and dump them in a few weeks

Mumbai: A month-long investigation by MiD DAY journalists has revealed a twisted form of human trafficking that involves rich Arabs, greedy Qazis, sham marriages, agents and girls lured into the flesh trade or those looking for a quick buck.

The modus operandi: set up a temporary or time-bound wedding to a rich Arab. The affluent Arab offers a negotiated amount for the services of a ‘wife’ during his stay in India. The price for the ‘booty’ varies from Rs. 15,000 to nearly a lakh for the 10-day marriage. Girls from poor families are sold like commodities to the Arabs, many of whom arrive on tourist visas from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar. While this may seem shocking to many, the women involved in this latest form of flesh trade are often willing participants.

The Arab and The Qazi

These predators have been perpetrating a blatant crime under the veneer of nikaah, abusing the Islamic rules of marriage. Abusing the sanctioned provision which allows a Muslim man to have four wives at a time, many old Arabs are not just marrying minors in Mumbai and Hyderabad, but marrying more than one minor in a single trip to the country.

The Pimp and The Victim

A healthy stream of women keep flowing into the city from all parts of the country to solicit the Arab clientele who have turned Mumbai into a sex haven. For as little asRs 2,000 per job, scores of women line up every evening hoping to catch the eye of the adulterous tourist.

Continue reading How Arabs buy ‘wives’ and dump them in a few weeks

Idle No More Movement – The plight of Natives in Canada.

Chief on hunger strike demands action within 72 hours

BY: GLORIA GALLOWAY

OTTAWA — Canada’s native leaders have petitioned the Prime Minister and the Governor-General to gather three weeks from now to discuss perceived failings in the treaty relationships – but an Ontario chief on a hunger strike to force such a meeting says she can’t wait that long.

Theresa Spence, the chief of the impoverished community of Attawapiskat, who has been fasting for 24 days to demand the face-to-face discussion, has told her supporters and other native leaders that a meeting must occur within the next 72 hours, and she will not start eating until it has begun. Raymond Robinson, an elder from the Cross Lake First Nation in Manitoba, is forgoing food along with her. ….

Read more» The Globe & Mail
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/chief-on-hunger-strike-demands-action-within-72-hours/article6894436/

Idle No More rallies held across Canada as movement grows

By: CTVNews.ca Staff

The national Idle No More movement showed no signs of slowing Friday as activists and protesters across Canada brought their call for protection of First Nations rights to the streets.

Peaceful gatherings took place in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Ottawa, Saskatoon,Toronto and Nova Scotia.

Manitoba First Nations groups rallied Friday morning at the Winnipeg International Airport, circling in cars, honking their horns and hoisting placards, one reading “Shame on you Canada.”

The group planned to join an Idle No More rally at the legislative building. A demonstration along Highway 102 in Truro, N.S. caused delays for about eight kilometres but was otherwise peaceful.

Hundreds also braved a snowstorm to march through the streets of Ottawa to denounce what they say is the systematic destruction of indigenous rights.

First Nations leaders say Ottawa’s policies toward First Nations are oppressive and they are concerned that federal government is preparing to siphon power from band councils.

Particularly concerning, activists say, is the recently passed Bill C-45, the omnibus budget bill that according to movement organizers will fasttrack the process for aboriginals to surrender their reserve lands. Organizers also protest the new law because it includes clauses they say will slash the number of federally protected waterways and jeopardize lands they rely on. First Nations groups say they were not sufficiently consulted on the legislation.

At a panel discussion Friday, Nova Scotia aboriginal activist Shelley Young said the government is ignoring the plight of the First Nations. She said the Idle No More movement has “spread like wildfire.”

“We’re not just speaking up for ourselves, we’re speaking up for the rest of Canada,” she said. “We know that our treaty rights protect the waters and waterways. We want to do something about it.”

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/idle-no-more-rallies-held-across-canada-as-movement-grows-1.1088765#ixzz2Fn5koC5O

 

Canada gets human rights failing grade from Amnesty International

By: Olivia Ward, Foreign Affairs Reporter

Excerpt;

…. An Amnesty report released Wednesday says that committees on racial discrimination, prevention of torture and children’s rights found “a range” of “ongoing and serious human rights challenges,” especially for indigenous peoples.

“By every measure, be it respect for treaty and land rights, levels of poverty, average life spans, violence against women and girls, dramatically disproportionate levels of arrest and incarceration or access to government services such as housing, health care, education, water and child protection, indigenous peoples across Canada continue to face a grave human rights crisis,” it said. ….

Read more » The Toronto Star

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1304353–canada-gets-human-rights-failing-grade-from-amnesty-international

Women in Gaza: how life has changed

Behind the blockade, conservatism is rising, but so too is unemployment, poverty, depression and domestic violence

By: Angela Robson

Eman, 23, is dressed in a black, veiled jilbab and lives in a collapsing shack on the outskirts of Gaza City. She left school at 10 and seven years later she was married, with a baby daughter. An open sewer flows past her front door. When it rains, rubbish streams into the kitchen.

“Before the blockade, my husband used to make good money working in Israel,” she says. “With the blockade, that all stopped. When he can’t find any work and we have nothing to eat, he blames me. He is a like a crazy animal. I stay quiet when he hits me. Afterwards, he cries and says, if he had a job, he wouldn’t beat me.”

It is five years since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip and Israel tightened its siege of the territory. Many men became jobless overnight and it is women who have ended up bearing the brunt of their husbands’ frustration. Besides sticking to their traditional role of raising children, the blockade has compelled large numbers of women to become the breadwinners, while standing by their husbands, many of whom have depression.

Violence against women has reached alarming levels. A December 2011 study by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, PCBS, revealed that 51% of all married women in Gaza had experienced violence from their husbands in the previous 12 months.

Two thirds (65%) of women surveyed by the PCBS said they preferred to keep silent about violence in the home. Less than 1% said they would seek help. Mona, my 22-year-old interpreter, is astonished when I later ask what support there is for women such as Eman. “If her husband, or in fact anyone in the family, knew she had talked about this, she’d be beaten or killed. As for places for a woman to run to safety, I don’t know of any.”

Continue reading Women in Gaza: how life has changed

Preying on Poverty: How Government and Corporations Use the Poor as Piggy Banks

by Barbara Ehrenreich
Individually the poor are not too tempting to thieves, for obvious reasons. Mug a banker and you might score a wallet containing a month’s rent. Mug a janitor and you will be lucky to get away with bus fare to flee the crime scene. But as Business Week helpfully pointed out in 2007, the poor in aggregate provide a juicy target for anyone depraved enough to make a business of stealing from them.

The trick is to rob them in ways that are systematic, impersonal, and almost impossible to trace to individual perpetrators. Employers, for example, can simply program their computers to shave a few dollars off each paycheck, or they can require workers to show up 30 minutes or more before the time clock starts ticking.

Lenders, including major credit companies as well as payday lenders, have taken over the traditional role of the street-corner loan shark, charging the poor insanely high rates of interest. When supplemented with late fees (themselves subject to interest), the resulting effective interest rate can be as high as 600% a year, which is perfectly legal in many states.

It’s not just the private sector that’s preying on the poor. Local governments are discovering that they can partially make up for declining tax revenues through fines, fees, and other costs imposed on indigent defendants, often for crimes no more dastardly than driving with a suspended license. And if that seems like an inefficient way to make money, given the high cost of locking people up, a growing number of jurisdictions have taken to charging defendants for their court costs and even the price of occupying a jail cell. ….

Read more » Common Dreams

Rotting From Within – Investigating the massive corruption of the Chinese military.

BY JOHN GARNAUT

In many fields of international competition, China is less sanguine about its abilities than outsiders. Chinese leaders often remind Westerners that China is a developing country, with hundreds of millions of people living in poverty, an unbalanced economy, and high social tensions. What should most worry Beijing, and provide some comfort to those who fear Chinese military expansionism, is the state of corruption in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

True, the world underestimated how quickly a four-fold jump in Chinese military spending in the past decade would deliver an array of new weaponry to prevent the United States from interfering in a regional military conflict. Top American generals have worried publicly about “carrier-killer” ballistic missiles designed to destroy U.S. battle groups as far afield as the Philippines, Japan, and beyond. Last year, China tested a prototype stealth fighter and launched its maiden aircraft carrier, to augment new destroyers and nuclear submarines. What is unknown, however, is whether the Chinese military, an intensely secretive organisation only nominally accountable to civilian leaders, can develop the human software to effectively operate and integrate its new hardware. ….

Read more » Foreign Policy (FP)

Today the Baloch nation is observing black day, I cry with the Balochs?

27 March I celebrate or I cry with the Baloch? – by Salma Jafar

Today the Baloch nation is observing black day to mark its annexation to Pakistan. For me it is not a black day it is a day I want to celebrate. I want to celebrate because it gave me the occasion to grow up with these lovely people known as the Baloch. I want to celebrate my Baloch friends, my Baloch students, my Baloch relatives and many of them are my Baloch family. Had it not been for 27th March I wouldn’t have been a part of the Baloch culture, the Baloch music, the Baloch valour, the Baloch courage and the Baloch tolerance that when combined with the culture and valour of my own nation Pashtuns becomes the most beautiful combination ever. We have lived together, suffered togther hoped together, despaired together, dreamed together, and at times have been nasty to each other too – in this Baloch-Pashtun land. Well I would never want to live without them. So I don’t support Baloch independence for this very selfish reason of mine.

But yet the bitter-bitter truth is that for Baloch this is not a day of celebration it is a black day; by definition a day when something really bad and unpleasant has happened. They are observing it as a black day for being a part of Pakistan. They are angry and estranged and want freedom but why? Am not going to delve into the theory of forced annexation here but would share how Baloch have been treated, (I will today not say Balochistan as that covers Pashtun areas also and despite that Pashtuns have suffered equally but today is not our day) they have been treated as slaves (I hate to use this word but this is what Baloch think and feel) who should only obey the orders of their masters; in this case of course Punjab who has been running the shots. Unfortunately they didn’t understand the Baloch psychology they are not born to take orders or take dictations it is not in them. And that too not for any welfare but to usurp rights and carry out injustice. Balochistan is a dismal picture of social injustice all over. But if you visit the Baloch areas which I have; your definition of poverty and misery will change. People are subjugated to primitive lives with no development whatsoever.

But the Baloch did not ask you to give them anything; all they demanded is their right to their own resources. As if denying them that right and pushing them into abject poverty, illiteracy and disease was not enough the atrocious state bombarded them if they asked for controlling their own resources and controlling their own destinies, this is all they asked for; and bombarded them again and again and again. Trying new tactic to subjugate them further for last several years started the kill and dump policy, where young activists are picked up and after some time their dead mutilated bodies are found. There has been no end to this horrific game whereby hundreds of Baloch have been killed and dumped, many of them target killed and thousands are still missing; the internally displaced persons as a result of this conflict are mere refugees as the state has not granted them a refugee status to access humanitarian response; only cause they are Baloch. Raising voice for the Baloch is considered treachery by those in power; yes camouflaged as democrats.

What adds insult to injury is that amidst this very dreadful background Balochistan discourse remains as an economic and political discourse for most. There is a violent and ferocious insurgency going on in Balochistan; the Baloch are being shut up by killing them and they are killing in return too – their demand is now independence.

The wounds and scars of the Baloch are deep and the pain and agony are hard to touch – their silent screams I can hear; and a tear I shed with a prayer for their pain to end.

Courtesy: LUBP